Ron Onesti: Tony Danza … He's the boss!
Bruce Springsteen may be dubbed "The Boss," but when Tony Danza, the star of the ever-popular sitcom "Who's The Boss" appeared at the Arcada Theatre recently, the term "Boss" was redefined as somebody who is just the coolest dude you will ever meet. And that described Danza to a "T," as in "Tony."
Most of the acts we get here at The Arcada are famous by virtue of their music and the band's illustrious history. There are a few, however, who have that all-too-familiar face that brings us back to an earlier time when television and "kick the can" were our major sources of entertainment.
Howie Mandel, Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, Joan Rivers, Martin Short are just a few of the performers who just brightened up our room with a sense of both the excitement of a superstar and the comfort of a very familiar face. And when I came face to face with Tony, he welcomed me with a hello-hug and that recognizable grin.
"Ron!" he shouted. "I have heard great things about you," he said.
"I've heard some good things about you, too," I said back.
Really, seeing him in our dressing rooms was another one of those moments that underscored the legends who have visited us over the years. It was a fabulous one.
Knowing he is a huge boxing fan, and a former fighter himself, I presented him with a gift. It was a photograph of Angelo Dundee, trainer of Muhammad Ali and so many other legends, and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, with both of their autographs!
"I am stunned," he said. "I usually get homemade cookies and stuff like that as gifts. This … is amazing!"
We spoke about some of our mutual friends, and Frank Stallone's name came up. Frank is Sylvester's younger brother and a star in his own right. He wrote a slew of hit songs and did the music for the film "Grease II." He is an incredible entertainer and musician.
A few years back, Frank came out with a CD, and he had his record release party at Capitol Records in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to be invited, so I flew out there. It was a star-studded event. Of course, a part of the buzz that night was whether his brother was going to attend.
That is where I first met Tony. It was a quick photo op. He was there to support Frank. I remember double-shaking his hand with my right, and his forearm with my left. It was solid!
I was standing by the door in the studio where Frank Stallone recorded his record (and for that matter, where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other legends recorded). Then Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" films, came in. He was kind of quiet, just stepping into the room without much fanfare. Behind him? Rocky Balboa himself! Nobody saw the two come in.
I was just standing there between the two of them as they continued a conversation about Carl appearing in his next "Rocky" film. It was surreal. I waited for the right moment and asked the guys for a quick pic. They said, "sure."
They didn't stop their conversation, but there I was, in between two film legends as we posed for the shot. They are a bit taller than I, so the photo only had my head from the chin up in order to fit the two guys in it. Oh well, I still got the picture!
Back to our show with Tony Danza. He was warm and charming, doing songs from Sinatra and other classics. In between each song, he would share stories of his career, the ups and downs, the successes and not-so successes. He talked about meeting the "Chairman of the Board" himself; how crazy it was to work with Danny DiVito and Andy Kaufmann while shooting "Taxi;" and his "family" on the set of "Who's The Boss."
He was so excited about his new Netflix series, "The Good Cop." It is the first television series he has starred in since the 1990s. He plays a retired New York City cop who bent the rules during a different time. He gives his straight-laced son, a NYPD detective played by Josh Groban, advice on cracking cases. It is a father-and-son "Odd Couple," and is projected to be one of the top shows of the season.
I served he and his band my ravioli and meatballs, and it brought him to his East Coast roots. "Just like Mamma used to make," he said.
Sharing time with someone with whom you grew up with on TV is truly a magical experience. And when that superstar celeb is someone as genuine as Tony Danza, it makes for a memory that will live on as long as the theater itself. He is a "neighborhood guy" who never let fame change him.
Who's the boss? Let me tell you, Tony Danza is more than just the boss. He is the real deal when it comes to being true to himself and to his fans.
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.